In response to the upheaval of the pandemic, researchers and the leaders of over 100 schools focused on three fundamental areas of education, whether it’s in person or virtual.
The pandemic precipitated a historic education disruption. In response, my colleagues at Baylor University and I gathered educators from around the world in virtual learning communities to determine how best to respond. Leaders from 112 schools met in virtual communities in May, June, and July to identify what is most important in education, regardless of delivery method.
In general, we decided that the three most fundamental emphases should be on well-being, engagement, and feedback. We imagined a pyramid in which well-being is the largest section, at the pyramid’s base; engagement is the middle layer; and feedback is at the pyramid’s peak.
Well-being is the base of the pyramid because Maslow’s hierarchy takes priority over Bloom’s taxonomy. Maslow’s hierarchy categorizes basic human needs, and Bloom’s taxonomy identifies different levels of learning. If students’ and teachers’ physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being are not intact, then nothing else really matters.
Before they began addressing academics, the most successful schools ensured that they cared for teachers and students’ well-being. To that end, administrators set up multiple connection points each week to check in with teachers at their convenience. They asked teachers two simple questions: “How are you doing?” and “What do you need?”
Teachers and administrators also made weekly well-being phone calls to every student’s home. Some homes received three calls a week, particularly if there were concerns about family well-being. Several schools used mentor groups of students and faculty to generate ideas for service learning projects for their families and communities. These projects helped students think beyond themselves and reduced isolation. At one school, for instance, a team of five students created a tech support hotline for students or families struggling with technology issues that arose through distance learning.
The second level in the pyramid is engagement. Students don’t learn if they’re not engaged. Whether learning occurs virtually or in person, we came up with what we called the 4 Cs of Engagement: content, competition, collaboration, and creation.
Content: Through the spring, teachers discovered innovative ways to deliver content. Schools already using robust learning management systems like Schoology and Canvas made the transition to online content delivery relatively smoothly. For teachers of pre-K through second grade, Seesaw proved an invaluable tool because of its ease of use and the ability it provides to give and receive feedback. Tools like Edpuzzle and Pear Deck allow teachers to incorporate questions and interaction into videos and Google Slide presentations.
Competition: Friendly competition, particularly for reviewing surface-level knowledge, has always been an excellent way to engage students. Quizlet has long been an excellent review tool for almost any subject area because of its large number of quizzes that have already been created by teachers and students. Also, its format enables students to receive immediate feedback on what they do and don’t know. Kahoot! has been a favorite for a number of years now and allows students to interact with each other in a game format, whether in person or over distance. Gimkit, developed by a high school student who liked Kahoot! but thought he could improve on it, is a great tool for review: It’s fast-paced but allows students to repeatedly review questions and also records how many questions each student answers correctly.
Collaboration: With the move to distance learning, teachers shifted the tools they were using to facilitate virtual student collaboration. Three tools I was not aware of at the beginning of the school year that have proved to be invaluable are Parlay, Mentimeter, and Mural. Parlay allows teachers to track discussions virtually as students discuss meaningful texts. Mentimeter allows students and teachers to collect real-time data on students’ questions in the form of word clouds, rankings, and multiple-choice quizzes. Mural is a digital workspace for virtual collaboration that allows teachers and students to post, group, and reorganize ideas in real time.
Creation: Student content creation allows for autonomy and significantly boosts engagement. Tools like , Piktochart, and Padlet allow students to create digital images and content. Screencastify, GoFormative, and Loom allow students to annotate and explain complex problems. Flipgrid enables students to submit pictures and videos for feedback from teachers and students. Apple Clips and iMovie give students the opportunity to tell their own stories.
We get better through forms of deliberate practice that also provide opportunities to receive feedback. All of the tools we used for engagement offer opportunities for both deep and immediate feedback.
Whatever tool they use, great teachers know that they need to establish the criteria for success with students. Effective success criteria include answers to the following questions: (1) What does a good example look like?, and (2) What’s in it for the student? Students need examples and a reason to improve. With clear success criteria, students can self- and peer-review work. Instead of thinking in terms of the content they will cover next year, great teachers think about the skills and knowledge that students will be able to demonstrate and how they can provide feedback to help them get there.
With the uncertainty ahead for 2020–21, clarity in these three areas is more important than ever. The good news is that well-being, engagement, and feedback are not new—they have always been the key to a good education. We just need to leverage resources to implement them well in 2020–21.
Those who spent two hours a week outside reported improved mental and physical health.
In case you needed even more of a reason to get into the Great Outdoors, a study published in Scientific Reports says that spending two hours in nature every week could provide a boost to your health. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this; in July 2018, Science Daily shared another report boasting the same idea. If you read no further, at least take away the moral of this story: Spending time in nature is always a good idea.
This new study took two groups — one that did not spend any time in nature and another that took advantage of residential green spaces (parks, beaches, and the woods) — and monitored them for seven days. Each participant reported back on the state of their mental and physical wellness at the end of the study. According to CNN, the researchers included feedback from more than 20,000 people in the UK. Of those who spent time outside, one in three polled reported that they felt dissatisfied and one in seven shared that they had poor health. Of the group who did not spend time outdoors, nearly half reported “low levels of life satisfaction,” and 25 percent reported they experienced poor health.
The demographics of the two groups spanned all walks of life. Mathew White, leader of the study at University of Exeter Medical School, shared some insight with CNN on the people studied: “We were worried our effect was just that healthier people visited nature but this finding suggested even people with known illnesses who did manage to get two hours a week in nature fared better.”
This isn’t knowledge that’s supposed to surprise you: It makes sense. Pull yourself out of your everyday environment and stresses and experience something bigger than yourself. In a world where forest bathing is a popular and respected activity, it’s never been easier to get out into nature.
By Mihran Kalaydjian, CHA
10 Benefits of Carrots: The Crunchy Powerfood
Forget about vitamin A pills. With this orange crunchy powerfood, you get vitamin A and a host of other powerful health benefits including beautiful skin, cancer prevention, and anti-aging. Read how to get maximum benefits from this amazing vegetable.
Benefits of Carrots
1. Improved Vision
Western culture’s understanding of carrots being “good for the eyes” is one of the few we got right. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is transformed in the retina, to rhodopsin, a purple pigment necessary for night vision.
Beta-carotene has also been shown to protect against macular degeneration and senile cataracts. A study found that people who eat the most beta-carotene had 40 percent lower risk of macular degeneration than those who consumed little.
2. Cancer Prevention
Studies have shown carrots reduce the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. Researchers have just discovered falcarinol and falcarindiol which they feel cause the anticancer properties.
Falcarinol is a natural pesticide produced by the carrot that protects its roots from fungal diseases. Carrots are one of the only common sources of this compound. A study showed 1/3 lower cancer risk by carrot-eating mice.
The high level of beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant to cell damage done to the body through regular metabolism. It help slows down the aging of cells.
4. Healthy Glowing Skin (from the inside)
Vitamin A and antioxidants protects the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair and nails. Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes, and uneven skin tone.
5. A Powerful Antiseptic
Carrots are known by herbalists to prevent infection. They can be used on cuts – shredded raw or boiled and mashed.
6. Beautiful Skin (from the outside)
Carrots are used as an inexpensive and very convenient facial mask. Just mix grated carrot with a bit of honey. See the full recipe here: carrot face mask.
7. Prevent Heart Disease
Studies show that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Carrots have not only beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene and lutein.
The regular consumption of carrots also reduces cholesterol levels because the soluble fibers in carrots bind with bile acids.
8. Cleanse the Body
Vitamin A assists the liver in flushing out the toxins from the body. It reduces the bile and fat in the liver. The fibers present in carrots help clean out the colon and hasten waste movement.
9. Healthy Teeth and Gums
It’s all in the crunch! Carrots clean your teeth and mouth. They scrape off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or toothpaste. Carrots stimulate gums and trigger a lot of saliva, which being alkaline, balances out the acid-forming, cavity-forming bacteria. The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.
10. Prevent Stroke:
From all the above benefits it is no surprise that in a Harvard University study, people who ate more than six carrots a week are less likely to suffer a stroke than those who ate only one carrot a month or less.
Healthy eating does not mean depriving yourself of the foods you love or staying unrealistically thin, but rather about developing a well-balanced, satisfying relationship with food. Your food choices can reduce your risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, as well increase your energy, stabilize your weight, and boost your mood.
By exploring the broad range of articles below, you’ll find help with everything from losing weight, overcoming food cravings, and eating out, to tips on buying and preparing food, managing your food budget, and devising nutrition plans to cope with or reduce the risk of specific diseases. Whatever your age, income, or living situation—whether you’re preparing meals for yourself or for the whole family—you’ll find everything needed to create an enjoyable, healthy diet that works for you.
Healthy eating tip 1: Set yourself up for success
To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a healthy diet sooner than you think.
Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. This way it should be easier to make healthy choices. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients. Gradually, your diet will become healthier and more delicious.
Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts.
Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. They are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day and with every meal—the brighter the better. Colorful, deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—and different colors provide different benefits, so eat a variety. Aim for a minimum of five portions each day.
Some great choices include:
Greens. Branch out beyond bright and dark green lettuce. Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options—all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
Sweet vegetables. Naturally sweet vegetables—such as corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, and squash—add healthy sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for other sweets.
Fruit. Fruit is a tasty, satisfying way to fill up on fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Berries are cancer-fighting, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangos offer vitamin C, and so on.